muscadine: (Default)
The NBC Nightly News coverage of Jeremiah Wright made me want to vomit.

News stories like this one make me want to vomit.

The much-touted-beforehand Moyers interview is now being almost completely ignored in favor of a new set of out-of-context sound bites and interpretations of sound bites from speeches to the NAACP and the press club. Much of what Wright has said speaks truth to power, and often in a pithy, humorous, even "sound-bite friendly" way. But while I didn't do an exhaustive search, I haven't been able to find a single news story released after the press club event that takes up that angle in a serious way. It's all about how Wright is either (a)crazy (b)radical (c)narcissistic or (d)all of the above. Perhaps that's no surprise.
muscadine: (Politics/Democrats/Ass)
Hillary hints at Clinton-Obama ticket

"That may be where this is headed," Clinton said. "But of course we have to decide who is on the top of the ticket."

My impression is that Clinton would be the bigger roadblock to a shared ticket, so if she's talking about it as a possibility, I think it just might go forward. The question, as she says, is who would be at the top of the ticket.

Some recent poll analysis:
Clinton v McCain
Obama v McCain
(simulation based on state-by-state polling)

Clinton v McCain
Obama v McCain
(simulation based on state-by-state polling)

Clinton v McCain
Obama v McCain
(these last two seem to be based on average percentage in various national polls, but presents an "over time" result in a nice graphical format - it should be noted that the current pattern also has shifted back and forth on a state-by-state level if you look back through previous analysis on the other pages)

Of course, if it's a shared ticket that may complicate the results of these polls immensely. And we really have no idea who McCain would choose.

EDIT: I also want to say that I was in the Common House living room watching the primary results come in, and the people there were all Obama supporters, and it was really kind of annoying to hear their reactions. Of course, I think I would have had a similar reaction in a room full of Clinton supporters. In the end I think my predominant reaction at the moment is that both "camps" need to get over themselves.
muscadine: (Comfort/Grief/Rain)
I stumbled upon a short poem I wrote probably a year or two ago in response to witnessing the Eyes Wide Open exhibit, which was displayed on the UA mall for a short time. I may have posted it here before but I'm not sure, so putting it here now for posterity:

As in life
The soldiers form a straight line
A regiment
The emptiness fills their shoes

More on the Eyes Wide Open exhibit )
muscadine: (Default)
A group of us were talking over dinner last week, and (mostly based on [ profile] acutegirl's contributions to the conversation) came up with four rough criteria (in no particular order) people use to decide whether they will enter into a certain sexual situation or not:
(a) Is it illegal? (are there laws - perhaps also policies/rules - against it?)
(b) Is it immoral/unethical? (do I believe it to be harmful to myself or others, does a Higher Power forbid it, etc?)
(c) Is it beneficial or is it in my/their interests? (beyond strict answers to above considerations, will it be unharmful and perhaps helpful in some way - psychologically, socially, etc. and probably actually includes consideration of consequences of (a) & (b). This criterion was the most vague and may actually need to be explicated further and teased apart more from (b).)
(d) Is it a preference? (do I like or want to do it, does it turn me on, etc)

Clearly, this set of criteria probably applies more broadly than sexual situations. How these four considerations are weighed against each other depends upon the person, and probably varies across situations for at least some persons. For example, some people would never do anything they knew to be illegal. Other people wouldn't much care about the legality. Some people might care a great deal about the legality in business matters, but not sexual matters. Sociopaths would only consider (d) and a limited aspect of (c) in regard to decision-making about pretty much anything. And so forth.

I decided to write about this now, beyond the fact that I considered the above conversation very interesting, because of how I thought about it being applicable in another case I recently ran into. On an LJ gaming community I posted part of a post by Gabe from Penny Arcade, an interview of his grandpa who fought in World War II. The interview ended with the following exchange:
Interview excerpt cut for length )

At the end of this quote I asked about what kind of moral/ethical lines people drew in regards to the games they play. I was only somewhat surprised to get back a couple of responses along these lines:
"I play what I like. I don't like moral/ethical values stand in the way."
"I do not avoid video games based on morals or ethics. The line should be drawn when games stop being fun."
In other words, mostly using (d), with perhaps a limited consideration of (c). Sound familiar?

As I thought about it, it seems to me this is actually a common attitude towards media in general. Certainly there are things individual people won't read or watch, but it varies quite a bit from person to person, and often tends to be expressed more in terms of personal preferences than ethics or morality. Indeed, there is often lots of criticism and contempt heaped upon groups that recommend avoiding a movie or book because of the ethics or morality it displays (of course, this is somewhat confounded by a history of actual censorship or attempts at censorship, and/or un/misinformed viewpoints about content of a book or movie). So I would venture to say most people will read books or watch movies in which various sorts of unethical and indeed horrifying behavior takes place, even when portrayed in anything from a neutral/ambiguous to sympathetic light. Witness the Hannibal Lecter fandom, as a quintessential example of this phenomenon.

So it should not be shocking to find people extend this attitude to other forms of media including video games. But, in the case of video games, it seems to me people tend to find this more worrisome. While in a sense people may "take on the role" of characters in any form of media, in video games this is much more explicit and active. The main character "is" the person playing in a way they are not for the person viewing or reading. Certainly I find it somewhat worrisome, although upon reflection I think perhaps we should also do more worrying than we do about other media as well. What does it mean that many of us use a logic arguably akin to sociopathy to decide what media we consume?

Goings On

Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:40 pm
muscadine: (Default)
To "celebrate" the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, a pro-life group has placed a huge set of banners on the mall depicting aborted fetuses. There is also a praise choir singing praise music. Not somber hymns that speak of human suffering or injustice, mind you, but cheery "praise God" stuff. Thus walking through the mall becomes an exercise in cognitive dissonance. This might actually be the plan, since cognitive dissonance is supposed to be an opportunity for acquiring or modifying beliefs, but I think it possibly is creating subconscious connections these people don't intend.

[ profile] acceptmyreality offers commentary wondering why we allow such a display while sexually explicit material or artistic expressions that might be construed as debasing of religion are censored as "obscene." One reason might be because it's being portrayed as violence - murder to be exact - and our culture is highly tolerant of depictions of violence. For example, it doesn't take much sexual content to press a movie into NC-17 or "X" categories, while rather gruesome depictions of violence merit only an R. Perhaps we should start a campaign placing these pro-life propaganda pictures (and perhaps some other violent imagery) alongside pictures of couples having sex and asking "why is this ok to display in public, but this not okay?"


Intramural softball is starting on campus and the Sociology dept is fielding a team (the Sociopaths). I'm going to try to participate this year since it's on Tuesday evenings.

* Go to OSCR to get Sophos fixed (Replaced with AVG)
* Pick up print outs from CCIT
* Attend first working group meeting
* Work on master's paper revision
* Find a preface to discuss in FM class for Thursday (Nickel & Dimed)
* Finish my GPSC travel grant application
muscadine: (Unity in Community)
I'm not a particularly big fan of the institutionalized and elitist HRC, but they do some potentially useful things. They've released a Buyer's Guide in time for the holidays based on company policies towards GLBT (no Q's to be found here) issues. Criteria for scoring include: non-discrimination policies for sexual orientation and gender identity, diversity training including sexual orienttion and gender identity, domestic partner health insurance, parity in a variety of other benefits, GLBT employee resource group or diversity council that includes GLBT issues, GLBT-friendly advertising and/or sponsorship, and not engaging in activities that undermine goals of GLBT equality (negative points if they do).

PDF Buyers Guide Here

Now, that said, this Buyer's Guide is still (perhaps necessarily, given the national focus) focused on large corporations and does not explicitly take into account any other issues like racial equality, good labor practices, support for other progressive political parties/causes, etc. Though it seems likely there is a lot of overlap based on who I see in the "ok" category based on what I know about these companies in the other issue areas.

Some interesting things I noticed:
What's up with Heinz? Or Ben & Jerry's for that matter? That's surprising.
Kroger. That's going to be a problem.
The famously homoerotic Ambercrombie & Fitch scored no better than the more notoriously homophobic JC Penny, though both actually fall somwhere in the middle.
FedEx scored surprisingly low (to me), might have to start paying more for UPS despite the Memphis roots.
It's somewhat funny that Progressive insurance isn't very progressive.
Where the hell is Tmobile?
muscadine: (God/Snarky Spiritual)
Really Short Nicholas Kristof: I'm an idiot.

Slightly Less Short Nicholas Kristof: Atheist apologetics are offensive to believers, so they should cut it out. Especially since the Christian Right is too busy helping the poor and desperate to be involved in those nasty little culture wars anymore.


Despite the title this does not appear to be a Swiftian satire. Atheists are described as snarky, increasingly assertive, obnoxious, militant, in-your-face, proselytizing, acerbic, mocking, intolerant, mean, contemptuous, fundamentalist, dogmatic, and aggressive. On the other hand, they shouldn't be discriminated against and make some "legitimate policy points." Wow. Talk about fair and balanced.

Even if some these charges are fair, they apply to a handful of authors/spokespersons representing (by Kristof's own numbers) maybe up to 1-2% of the population (the 15% doesn't count since they are by Kristof's standards clearly not militant but rather either closeted or wishy-washy). A clear and present danger.

Which leads us to the most ridiculous statement in the piece: "Now that the Christian Right has largely retreated from the culture wars, let’s hope that the Atheist Left doesn’t revive them." Really? The Christian Right has largely retreated from the culture wars? Someone tell Barack Obama. Or the LGBTQ folk in over half the states that have passed "protect marriage amendments" in the last few years (the vast majority since 2004). Or all the stores that have been boycotted for their "war on Christmas."

Kristof needs a reality check.

A Modest Proposal for a Truce on Religion )


Nov. 9th, 2006 12:40 pm
muscadine: (Politics/Democrats/Ass)
Don't be fooled into thinking the acceptance of Rumsfeld's resignation the day after the election was totally about a contrite President. This was a carefully orchestrated media event, albeit one I'm sure Bush preferred not to have. He thought they would pull it out, no doubt. But what better way to ensure the media didn't talk about the Demos 24/7? What took up the first 5 minutes of NBC news last night? Not the Demo victory. Rumsfeld's resignation. There's no such thing as bad publicity, folks.
muscadine: (Politics/Democrats/Ass)
Besides 107 it was a pretty mixed bag.

Anything related to immigration issues was a loser, overwhelmingly. Totally reactionary:
Illegal immigrants are to be denied bail
Illegal immigrants can't bring civil suits
Illegal immigrants are to be denied certain public services
English is to be the official language

And it looks like while the developer backed state trust land measure was overwhelmingly rejected, the other one also looks to be going down as well. Also, the sneaky supposed "eminent domain" measure passed.

On the plus side:
The Smoke Free Arizona measure passed, while the one backed by the tobacco companies failed
Higher minimum wage
Funding for children's education
Humane treatment of farm animals

In slightly more neutral territory:
Looks like a measure to limit property tax increases will pass
A measure allowing more municipal debt for safety (police, etc) passed
A measure creating a lottery reward system for voting was surprisingly overwhelmingly rejected
As was a measure requiring vote by mail
First and second meth offenses are now eligible to be jailed rather than required to be placed on probation
A legislative pay raise was rejected

Blue Period

Nov. 8th, 2006 12:30 am
muscadine: (Politics/Democrats/Ass)
Holy crap, they're calling Missouri for the Demos. We may just pull this one out, folks.
muscadine: (HP - Fandom/Stealing Harry)
Although CNN is still refraining from calling it, Arizona is poised to become the first state to defeat an anti-gay so-called "protect marriage" amendment. This is a big dot deal. We were at the Tucson "No on 107" party tonight and the numbers look good. We're about 30,000 votes ahead with 97% of precincts reporting. Most of the remaining votes will come from Pima County (Tucson's county), which has so far overwhelmingly voted against the amendment. So far Maricopa County (Phoenix's county) also has slightly more votes against the amendment, which was not entirely expected.

EDIT: With 98.5% of precints reporting, including all of Maricopa, it now appears to be a statistical impossibility that 107 was not rejected. Arizona, you make me happy.
muscadine: (MAD Cheshire Cat)
Evangelical megachurch pastor pays a high price for rejecting conservative politics. The church is in St. Paul apparently, so [ profile] i12bmore might be particularly interested.

We have water in our rivers and (despite unnaturally high humidity) we are quite possibly one of the coolest areas of the country. Our high today might break the ninties. Beware for the apocalypse is surely nigh!

I was somewhat cranky about my students yesterday, for no particular reason but rather a combination of factors. However, after talking with some other people in the dept and the students themselves about the fact that some of them are taking up to 5 classes over the wonder they don't show up for class and have no motivation to do any work. I think we should switch over to a tri-mester or quarterly system. Especially since our regular semesters are currently insanely long and three sessions in the summer is also insane.

We had a "sin party" last night with the theme of Wrath. We watched the new Focus on the Family video answering 10 questions asked about same-sex marriage. There are intelligent, integrity-filled people who oppose same-sex marriage, at least in terms of religion (as in, all religions should not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages, etc). But this was not an example of that. The mistake made, perhaps, was that the purpose of the video was to engage the debate without using scriptural or religious arguments. But all that they had to replace it with, apparently, were arguments of gender essentialism and emotional pleas to "think of the children." I am not using hyperbole here. And I could actually accept those arguments as part of public discourse, except that the spokesperson deliberately misrepresented research and statements by professional and advocacy groups. But perhaps the most ridiculous thing was what basically amounted to a character assassination of, of all people, Rosie O'Donnell. It's surprisingly hard to maintain a wrathful composure when you are so filled with incredulity at what you are witnessing.
muscadine: (Coexist)
Bill Bennett & Jon Stewart

I don't like all of Stewart's arguments, but my favorite parts:

Stewart gets Bennett to admit "family" is the long-term basis of society, not modern marriage, and Bill goes on to volunteer that gay people are already part of families.

Stewart says, "It's a debate about whether gay people are part of the human condition, or just a random fetish."


May. 14th, 2006 02:11 pm
muscadine: (Politics/Democrats/Ass)
Wait, which party is the party of American/family/etc values?

The latest NYT/CBS Poll:
Party you think is more likely to...
...come closer to sharing your moral values? Republican 37% Democratic 50% (Both 1% Neither 5% No Opinion 7%)

Other interesting results:
...make the right decisions about the war in Iraq? R 30% D 48% (N.O. 15%)
...make the right decisions when it comes to immigration issues? R 29% D 45% (N.O. 15%)
...make sure the tax system is fair? R 27% D 55% (N.O. 8%)
...improve education? R 25% D 53% (N.O. 11%)
...protect your civil liberties? R 22% D 62% (N.O. 8%)
...have more new ideas? R 21% D 45% (N.O. 17%)
...improve the health care system? R 19% D 62% (N.O. 10%)
...make prescription drugs for the elderly more affordable? R 18% D 61% (N.O. 14%)
...see to it that gasoline prices are low? R 11% D 57% (N.O. 14%)

I don't really think the Dems can "see to it that gasoline prices are low," but it looks like the Republicans are being spanked on nearly every current issue in terms of public opinion. What do Republicans win on? Strong military (55/29) and terrorism (40/35). Of course, this is also a nationwide poll, whereas a state-by-state poll would really be what is important, especially in the more contested states.

And the sad thing is, I have no optimism that this will translate into real gains for the Dems in the midterm elections.
muscadine: (Politics/Democrats/Ass)
You scored as Green. The Green Party believes in an America where decisions are made by the people and not by a few giant corporations. Their environmental goal is a sustainable world where nature and human society co-exist in harmony.




Old School Democrat


New Democrat


Foreign Policy Hawk




Socially Conservative Republican


Pro Business Republican


What's Your Political Philosophy?
created with
muscadine: (Default)
[Poll #701807]
muscadine: (Coexist)
[ profile] joxn has it exactly right about this bill.

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

You don't have to take that literally to see that making basic aid for anyone illegal is an unthinkable thing to do. Yet, as a country, we're not that far from it. God save us.

EDIT: Well, at least they saved Christmas. :P

EDIT2: Find out how your Representative voted. Let them know how you feel.
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